IMPARA's Research

Our mission is to promote the study of aging, in partnership with other institutions, agencies, and health and spiritual care providers in our region.

Examples of research under development

Project upBEAT: Building Empathy and Teamwork in the Long Term Care Setting
Purpose: To build strong care teams by developing empathic communication, mutual support, and conflict resolution skills among formal and informal caregivers; this includes the development of cultural competence, as well as the recognition and understanding of the social issues faced by frontline and informal caregivers
Description: A demonstration project to improve the caregiving experience for formal and informal caregivers and enhance the overall quality of the care provided to residents in long-term care, by establishing monthly facilitated discussion and educational sessions for direct care workers and other long-term care staff, along with family members and other informal caregivers of nursing home residents, on the difficult social and emotional issues inherent in delivery of long-term care
Team: IMPARA staff, Le Moyne College Nursing Department faculty and graduate students, and other staff from Menorah Park
"The approach is particularly innovative because of its linkages with research and practice entities: The Rodney and Marjorie Fink Institute at Menorah Park for Applied Research on Aging, Menorah Park, and the Le Moyne College department of Nursing. The evaluation design should yield valuable insights regarding the program outcomes and provide important feedback from your primary consumers - family members and staff… I applaud your initiative and am delighted that professionals in our community are developing state-of-the-art interventions in long-term care." –  Deborah Monahan, PhD, Professor, College of Human Ecology/School of Social Work, Syracuse University

Talk and Tech: A Model Support Group for People with Macular Degeneration and their Families
Purpose: To pilot and evaluate the benefits of a model support group for individuals and families affected by age-related macular degeneration (AMD) emphasizing social, educational, and problem-solving strategies, with particular emphasis on teaching and testing use of assistive technology and the peripheral vision technique for patients losing their central vision as a result of AMD. Talks are under way with the Association of AMD Patients in Israel (NAMAG) to include field testing of its pilot workshop for peripheral vision in the context of the support groups.
Team: Ann Patrice Whitaker, OT, low-vision specialist; behavioral health professional from BeWell Health Associates; IMPARA staff; NAMAG consultants

The BeWell Initiative: Behavioral and Emotional Wellness Empowers Later Life
IMPARA is spearheading a major new focus of Menorah Park, the BeWell Initiative: Behavioral and Emotional Wellness Empowers Later Life. Together with a broad spectrum of community agencies and individual providers, the BeWell Initiative targets the following vulnerable and underserved populations:

    1. Older adults with pre-existing mental health diagnoses, who are now also experiencing age-related functional impairments or disabilities
    2. Older adults with functional impairment that is associated with aging, who had no pre-existing mental health issues but who have developed them in later life
    3. Older adults with functional impairment that is associated with aging, who have no pre-existing mental health issues but who are at risk of developing them

Like all IMPARA initiatives, the roles of research, care delivery and training/workforce development in these efforts will be indivisible and mutually supportive. However, BeWell is not an IMPARA undertaking alone, but rather one that will involve all aspects of the Menorah Park campus and many of the community beyond. IMPARA's role is in driving conceptualization and governing the infrastructure of what is to be, in essence, a laboratory of geriatric mental health research and its application.

IMPARA-driven research will address clinical, systems, and training aspects of the initiative. First among these is the building of BeWell Health Associates, the professional team resource in geriatric mental health upon which the entire initiative is predicated. The team will include a geropsychiatrist, a geropsychologist, and licensed clinical social workers certified in gerontology. We expect BeWell Health Associates to expand in the future to also comprise psychiatric nurses and nurse practitioners as well as nursing students, medical residents and fellows, and students/trainees in other professional roles.

"I applaud you for taking the initiative to fill a critical gap in our community's ability to address our seniors' health care needs. Indeed, the BeWell Initiative is shaping up to tackle an ambitious agenda. I believe that your strategy is a sound and forward-looking one: (1) to meet a current need and base the short-term stability of the project on the provision of much-needed and easy-to-access outpatient services while (2) in the long term using the specialized professional team that results, in collaboration with other agencies and in different settings, to work on long-term care needs, research, teaching, and other elements of the geriatric mental health care equation." –  Dr. Mantosh Dewan, Distinguished Service Professor and Chair, Department of Psychiatry, SUNY Upstate Medical University